Having been an accountant for so long, I frequently discuss finances with my kids. They know all about budgets, how credit cards work, and why we can or cannot afford certain things. It’s important to me that they understand money isn’t in constant supply and, even as adults, we have to make choices.
I was talking with my children about a potential new client yesterday. The kid asked me how much the new gig would pay, so I told them about some of my package pricing. That sounded like a lot of money to them, so I explained that it all depends on how many hours the work takes. Naturally, they wanted to know about how much I would make per hour. I told them my hourly rate and they were astounded. That’s a lot of money! It takes me forever to earn $10! I further explained that while my rate sounds like a lot, they have to remember that I have a lot of unpaid time too.
I then explained my day. You see, I went on an initial client consultation call yesterday. Their location was a bit outside of my normal range, but the project was right up my alley. Between meeting time and drive time, I spent 2.5 hours of my day unpaid, just for this one potential client that may or may not lead to work.
After hearing the story, my son responded: “You’re too soft Mom! You give too much away for free! You’re soft and sweet like a cupcake!.” I told him he should consider a career as a business consultant because that’s a pretty interesting observation for a 9 year old!
In this case, I wasn’t being “too soft”. I do believe in the give to get philosophy and I think all service providers struggle with this issue. I don’t want to be soft and sweet like a cupcake, but I do want to give enough away for free that potential clients know they’re making the right choice to work with me. Typically, that means a free 30 minute phone call, articles, and blog posts. Sometimes I give a little more when I feel there are larger issues for the potential client. I need to understand everything that they’re dealing with before I can ascertain whether or not it’s a good fit for both of us. Taking the time to ensure it’s the right fit means less time and frustration down the road. I’m not giving too much away; I’m simply investing in a relationship.
How about you? How much do you give away for free? Are you soft and sweet like a cupcake?